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Big wins for Ospreys and Newport as Scarlets fall to defeat

It was a mixed day for Welsh regions in the PRO12 yesterday, with Newport Gwent Dragons and Ospreys picking up big wins, but Scarlets going down 26-15 at home to Edinburgh.

Tom Prydie put in a man of the match performance for Newport. Credit: PA

The Dragons moved ahead of south Wales rivals Cardiff into ninth place in the table courtesy of a 32-17 bonus-point victory against fellow strugglers Treviso yesterday.

Newport were worthy winners in northern Italy and gained maximum points thanks to a late brace of tries from Tom Prydie, after earlier touchdowns from Jonathan Evans and Hallam Amos.

Prydie capped off a man-of-the-match display with three conversions and two penalties for a match haul of 22 points.

Sam Davies contributed 16 points with the boot for Ospreys. Credit: PA

Meanwhile at the Liberty Stadium Number eight Dan Baker crossed for two tries as the Ospreys cruised back into the top four with a 53-22 bonus-point victory over bottom team Zebre.

In all Ospreys scored seven tries through Baker (two), Josh Matavesi, Scott Baldwin, Rhys Webb, a penalty try and Hanno Dirksen, while Sam Davies contributed 16 points with the boot.

The Zebre tries came from Dion Berryman, Giulio Toniolatti and Alberto Chillon, with Gonzalo Garcia supplying a penalty and Mirco Bergamasco kicking two conversions.

The Ospreys' 12th victory leaves the region in fourth place, four points ahead of Leinster in fifth.

Gareth Davies was sent off in a disappointing day for Scarlets. Credit: PA

Elsewhere Scarlets replacement scrum-half Gareth Davies was sent off as Edinburgh earned a 26-15 victory at Parc y Scarlets.

Davies, who came on in Wales' Six Nations win in Italy last weekend, saw red from referee John Lacey on 60 minutes for a head butt on Andries Strauss, an incident which was reviewed by TV match official Derek Bevan.

Edinburgh's victory came thanks to tries for Phil Burleigh and Dave Denton with man of the match Sam Hidalgo-Clyne kicking 16 points. All of Scarlets' points came from Steve Shingler's five first-half penalties.

It was Edinburgh's first win over the Scarlets for three years - a run of 13 matches - and moved them above the Welsh region to seventh in the overall standings.

Ramsey calls for Belgium win as Euro qualification edges nearer

Aaron Ramsey believes Wales can follow up yesterday's win with victory over Belgium in June - taking a huge stride towards reaching the Euro 2016 finals in the process.

Ramsey said his celebration for was his nan, who passed away at the weekend. Credit: PA

Wales comprehensively beat Israel 3-0 in Haifa to top Group B in European Championship qualifying, with their next game at home to Belgium on June 12.

Belgium are ranked fourth in the world and made their own statement of intent on Saturday when they thrashed Cyprus 5-0 in Brussels.

The Red Devils will top the group by beating Israel in Jerusalem on Tuesday but Wales held Belgium in Brussels in November and Ramsey believes they can upset them again in the return fixture at the Cardiff City Stadium.

"We'll be looking forward to Belgium. It's a tough game but we are full of confidence at the moment. We are top of the group, so why can't we win the game?"

– Aaron Ramsey, Wales midfielder
Manager Chris Coleman celebrates yesterday's win. Credit: PA

Arsenal midfielder Ramsey, who scored in yesterday's win, revealed his goal celebration when he pointed to the heavens was in honour of his grandmother who died last weekend.

"My nan passed away on the weekend, that's why it's been quite tough. My goal was for her. I'm just really proud I could score the goal for her. I know she's looking down on me and I was glad I could score."

– Aaron Ramsey, Wales midfielder

Ramsey's goal preceded a double strike from Gareth Bale which took the game away from 10-man Israel in the second half.

Bale's form for Real Madrid has been widely criticised in Spain but he has now scored six goals in his last six appearances for his country.

"I don't need to answer the critics, I know, and everyone around me knows, what I can do. There are ups and downs in football, you have to take it with a pinch of salt and all you can do is respond with your performances on the pitch, like that. I don't feel I need to prove anyone wrong or right, I just need to play my football. I love playing for Wales. It's a big honour and the most important thing is I focus on my football and I don't listen to anyone else, what they're saying."

– Gareth Bale, Wales forward
Gareth Bale scored twice in in yesterday's win. Credit: PA

Wales now have 11 points from five games and manager Chris Coleman believes 20 will prove enough to claim one of the two automatic qualifying spots on offer.

"You've got to be really unlucky if you get to 20 and you don't get to the first top two. We've done some good work and we're on the right road but there's some distance left. We've got the chance to prove we are the best Welsh team since the one that qualified for the 1958 World Cup. I played in Welsh teams in 1994 and 2004 where we nearly did it and now we have the opportunity to go a step further. People say it's a golden generation but we need to earn it. We're doing it but we've not done it yet. But we want the chance to prove since 1958 this team is as good as anything that's gone before."

– Chris Coleman, Wales manager

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Welsh driver involved in fatal crash

Welsh sportscar driver Jann Mardenborough has been involved in a crash in a race in Germany which has resulted in the death of a spectator.

Mardenborough's Nissan flew in the air for around 30 metres. Credit: PA

Mardenborough was competing in the VLN1 event at the Nurburgring Nordschliefe when his Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped up in the air as it crested a rise in the circuit.

With the nose of the car pointing up in the air, it soared for around 30 metres before landing on its tail and bouncing over the catch-fencing into a crowd of people.

"The race was stopped to give emergency crew quick access to the circuit, and wasn't restarted. The accident occurred in the Flugplatz part of the circuit, with a competitor leaving the circuit for a yet unspecified reason and finishing up behind the safety fencing. The VLN and the organisers are deeply saddened by the accident, and their thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims."

– VLN statement

Mardenborough emerged from the car seemingly unscathed, although has since been taken to a local hospital for routine checks following an initial examination at the circuit medical centre.

Jann Mardenborough is the son of former Swansea City player Steve. Credit: PA

"Today's events have been a tragedy. We are all deeply shocked and saddened by these events and our immediate thoughts go to the deceased, those injured and their families and friends. The team is fully co-operating with the race organisers to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident."

– Nissan statement

Mardenborough is renowned for his epic rise into motor racing just four years after winning Nissan's 'gamer-to-racer' project.

In 2011, the 23-year-old from Cardiff won the GT Academy, a scheme run by Nissan and Sony that turns armchair gamers into professional racers.

Over the past few years Mardenborough, son of former professional footballer Steve, has competed in sportscars and single-seaters.

In mid-February, Nissan confirmed Mardenborough would take part in a full season of the World Endurance Championship, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

George North "feeling OK" after concussion

Wales winger George North says he is "feeling okay" after being knocked out in Northampton's Aviva Premiership clash with Wasps on Friday.

North left the field unconscious and in a neck brace. Credit: PA

North scored two tries in the Saints' 52-30 win but after the second, he was caught on the head by the knee of Wasps forward Nathan Hughes, who was sent off for dangerous play.

North left the field unconscious and in a neck brace but the club tweeted just before half-time that he was "awake" and the player wrote on his own Twitter account on Saturday.

"He is okay now; he is up and walking about in the dressing room. It is a knock to his head, which is not good. We will look after him and make sure he comes back when he is right."

– Jim Mallinder, Northampton Director of Rugby

The injury was a worrying sight after North took two blows to the head in his country's RBS 6 Nations clash with England.

He controversially played on in that game before sitting out Wales' next match against Scotland.

Williams focused on Israel win as skipper reaches milestone

Wales captain Ashley Williams has said he has given little thought to winning his 50th cap this afternoon - with picking up Euro 2016 qualifying points the only thing on his mind.

Williams in training for Wales ahead of the Israel clash. Credit: PA

The 30-year-old centre back reaches the half century mark after making his debut in a 2-0 win over Luxembourg in 2008.

Since then Williams has become an established Premier League defender at Swansea and Wales, now under the guidance of Chris Coleman, are hoping o the European Championship finals in France next year after making an unbeaten start to their qualifying campaign

That run will be tested against Group B leaders Israel on Saturday but Williams insists Wales are ready for the challenge on a night when he reaches his own personal milestone.

"I am obviously aware it is my 50th (cap) but I will enjoy it after the game. This is one of the biggest games for me, alongside my debut and getting the captaincy for the first time, but that is something for after the game. I've just been concentrating on the game and getting the job done. That's been my focus and motivation this week and the whole squad is relaxed because we have confidence in what we are doing."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain
Williams has been in good form for Swansea in recent weeks. Credit: PA

Williams will come up against one of the form strikers in Euro 2016 qualifying at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.

Omer Damari has five goals in qualifying so far and shares the honour of being joint top-scorer in qualifying with England striker Danny Welbeck.

"They are clever and sharp players and they have got goals in this campaign. I know my unit has to be tight and we will need to be resolute and stick to the task, but we are right up for it. We are expecting a hostile atmosphere but I would rather that than playing somewhere half-empty. There is nothing better when it is hostile because those are the nights you remember."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain

Wales' qualification hopes were buoyed by picking up a point away to group favourites Belgium in November.

It means they have eight points after four games, one shy of Israel who have won their three matches and play Belgium at home on Tuesday, and Williams admits Wales have to keep picking up points on the road.

"It will be difficult but we do need to get points away from home, it is not enough to win at home. We have gone into every game looking for the win and this will be no different."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain
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